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Spring Baby Boom

Blog updates are much harder to do with a house full of babies!  Please accept our apologies for the lack of updates on the website.  However, if you ever want to check in on what we’re up to, like us on Facebook and you’ll see much more frequent updates.  Since our last update spring has officially begun and babies have started to come in.  Squirrels usually lead the way into spring, being our first babies each year and this year was no different.  In a normal year we will see our first grey squirrels right around Valentine’s Day.  For some reason this year, they were late and we didn’t get our first litter until March 2nd!  With the warm winter we were guessing that babies would come early this year.  Some of us even expected record numbers of squirrels and everything else because the animals has so much more time with good weather to mate multiple times.  So far – all of our speculations were incorrect.  We ended up getting squirrels later rather than earlier, and our numbers are extremely low for this time of year.  Rehab centers in St. Louis’s metro area are reporting far fewer orphans than most other years.

The Wildlife Hotline currently has one litter of grey squirrels that are about 7 weeks old right now and working on weaning off of formula.  If it were up to them, they’d eat formula forever!  We also have three little Fox Squirrels with us right now that are perfectly adorable.  We do not see Fox Squirrels very often, as they are much less common than your typical grey squirrel.  Fox Squirrels are about double the size of a Grey and they have a reddish tint to their belly and especially their tails.  They are beautiful and we all feel very lucky to have these little men – all three are boys.  We also have three 10-14 day old raccoons with us right now, and two very tiny baby skunks.

Skunks do not usually come in until mid-May but we received a call from a very special lady who found these little ones and kept them alive until we could take them.  They’re very cute and very, very tiny!  Skunks always seem strong and sturdy, but we’re trying to remember that these guys are very little and a lot of things can go wrong in their very young lives still.  We just hope they make it.

Other than babies,we’re getting twenty to thirty baby bunny calls each day.  It seems like a lot of the calls we get regarding baby bunnies are from people who really don’t want ‘advice’.  They want someone to come get the bunnies and let them live happily ever after in some magical place where nothing eats bunny.  It’s difficult for us to explain to a call that the baby bunnies have a better chance in your yard with Mom than they do in a rehab/clinic setting.  Bunnies stress out easily, plus they have a very sensitive bellies and formula is really difficult for them to digest in comparison to Mom’s milk.  We are not cruel people, and we’re not trying to avoid helping you when you find a baby bunny.  We are only trying to give you the advice that is BEST FOR THE BUNNY.

For us at the Hotline, the animal’s welfare is more important than anything else.  We can advise you on how to keep your dog from getting the babies, or how to dry off, warm up and reunite baby bunnies with Mom, amongst many other things.  However, we cannot send someone out to pick up baby bunnies from someone because they just don’t want them there.  That is stealing babies from Mom, and we would never intentionally do that.  Please keep in mind when calling the Hotline that we do not have volunteers standing by in ambulances near you, waiting for your call.  We are in no way publicly funded by tax dollars or the government.  We are 100% volunteer rehabbers using our own cars, gas money, medical supplies, ordering formula on our personal credit cards, and relying on private donations in order to make it from month to month.  When we ‘dispatch’ a rehabber to go out on a call it must be a rescue emergency.  Rescue emergencies are when an animal is stuck in a way that requires specialized equipment or training to retrieve it, or when an animal is considered so dangerous that special equipment or training is needed to safely handle and capture it.  A barred owl stuck in a fence is a rescue emergency.  A cottontail rabbit hit by car and still alive is not because a citizen can pick up a rabbit and transport it to the closest animal hospital or rehab center, while the owl would have been dangerous to handle.  A raccoon stumbling around on your deck to the point that you, your dog, your kids cannot go outdoors is a rescue emergency.  The raccoon requires special equipment and training to handle safely, even when they are sick.  Yet, a songbird stuck in your house is not a rescue emergency.  Open the doors and windows and he will fly out.  You don’t really need us to do that.

This is a rescue emergency >>

We hope that clears up some of the confusion.  We understand that some residents believe that calling us at all was their good deed for the day, and really don’t want to drive the animal anywhere.  Please consider what you are asking us to do – We live all over the state of Missouri and into Illinois.  So if we drive out from say… House Springs, MO to get a baby bird from a resident in Manchester, MO.  We then drive from Manchester, MO to Overland, MO (Wild Bird Rehab) to drop off the baby bird to be cared for by the right people.  Then we have to turn around and drive all the way back to House Springs, MO to get home and do baby feedings.  At $4 a gallon right now, this is not a service that we can afford to provide.  If we HAPPEN to be in the area and going to Wild Bird that day anyway, we’ll do it, but for the most part, we just  can’t.  We wish we could.  Callers get so upset when other agencies (not us) tell them to put the baby bird/squirrel/etc. back outside and ‘let nature take its course’.  Callers yell and scream that the animal is going to die and they ‘just can’t’ leave it outside.  We understand that.  We couldn’t do it either.  However, sometimes these same callers also refuse to drive the baby the 10 miles or so to get to a licensed rehabber who can save the baby.  At some point we have to get a little mean and say “Well, then I guess he’s going to die”.  It’s a horrible thing to say, but we don’t know how else to impress upon some callers that they need to pitch in a bit and drive baby to rehab.  Often the Wildlife Hotline is the ONLY place that callers can get a live person to talk to as opposed to every other rehab center’s voice mail.  Yet, callers still get upset with us that we’re not able to race to their front doors to rescue the baby bunny that (a lot of times) the caller actually found DAYS ago and has fed, which explains why the baby is crashing in the first place.  Please spread the word to your family and friends that rehabbers are volunteers and that we are doing this out of the kindness of our hearts.  We WANT to help everyone.  We just aren’t able to do so all of the time.

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